(to my email subscribers. Click on the title EKPHRASIS, WHAT’S THAT? in the above box for full post, links–and color.)
Playing Around With a Story Line in Different Literary Genres
Writing Leap #9 Ekphrasis, What’s That?
Painting as writing muse.
A touchstone for the imagination. Ekphrasis!
It’s a funny word from the ancient Greeks that means writing inspired by works of art. It’s like a riff in jazz, an improvisation, a spin-off story.
This is not art criticism. No analysis of artistic technique.
It’s pure freedom to take a detail or the overall image in the painting, any painting, and see where it takes you as narrative. It may come out a poem. Wheeeee!
Child Wearing a Red Scarf
Drink in this painting. I bet you have a story already.
The nice man took little Stardust’s hand and led her quietly out of the jewelry department where her mother was peering into the case with the diamond earrings.
“Where are we going?” she said as he picked her up and pushed them through the revolving doors.
“To buy you a lollypop. Would you like that?” He set her down on the sidewalk and took her hand again. She pulled a corner of her red scarf up to her mouth.
“An orange one?”
“Of course. The biggest orange lollypop you ever saw.”
Stardust felt herself being pulled and yanked along the sidewalk.
“C’mon sweetheart. Let’s beat the red lights at the street corners.
“I don’t know you.”
He smiled at her. He leaned down and put his fingers through her curls. Mmmmmm. He kept pulling her along.
“My name is magic,” she said. Stardust is a magic name.”
“Sure.” Her pulled her to a car, pushed her into the front seat and sat next to her in the driver’s seat. He brushed her red scarf away from her arm and started kissing it, getting closer and closer to her face.
“I’m nice, right?” he whispered in her ear.
“Ker-choo!” He pulled out a tissue and blew his nose.
“What the heck?” The nice man stared at the empty seat next to him.
He squealed. Where did she go so fast? He snapped his body around this way and that, felt along the floor, jumped out, looked in the back, looked in the trunk and back under the seat. He felt his eyes go wild.
Stardust’s mommy was just beginning to worry. Please Stardust, you know what to do.
“Mommy, mommy I did it. I touched my red scarf and wished and wished. Just like you said.
Her mother hugged her. “There’s my good little witch-in-training.”
I never expected to feel slightly sick after writing a piece but I did with this one. To venture down into the dark can be disturbing.
The upsetting feelings are lingering.
LINKING THE ARTS
The portrait in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is
an example of ekphrasis. He creates changes in the portrait
as the story moves along.
Ernest Hemingway said somethiing like, “Find the pain,
yours and others, and write about that.” He might have added,
“in a true way.”
Truth is hard to define. Writers need to try and find it and shine a light on it. God knows I’m trying. Really, Mr. Hemingway, I’m trying.
Hey Cynthia, wow what a great post. So proud of you for going down that path. Villains can be so hard to write. It can take us to untold parts of our mind and consious . Without the bad, the good cannot exist or so I’m told. So keep doing it because it helps to learn something new, but also you never know what new story this may lead to.
Thanks so much Denise. I’m grateful for your thoughtful feedback and for feeling the story. Nothing better for a writer as you well know.
Read Denise’s wonderful story “Consoling Angel” on her blog, http://www.thepenmuse.net.